After weeks of rumours and prognostications, the National Basketball Association draft was finalised earlier today.
The lead up to the draft was hectic with big trades showing up on every social media feed refresh. In the end there weren’t too many surprises, though, with the top three going to their expected clubs.
With the lineups now in, clubs around the league that missed the playoffs now have to cross their fingers in the hope that they’ve found future superstars. So here’s a look at the top 10 players, what they’ve said about their selection – and which past greats they’ve been compared to.
1. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS, Markelle Fultz, PG, Washington
Felt was the expected pick and is a perfect fit for the 76ers. He’s a point guard who can play both ends at a high level. He shot over 40 per cent from 3-point range in college, which is the exact kind of help Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid will need in Philly to make a run for the playoffs in 2018.
Similar player to: Damian Lillard.
— Markelle Fultz (@MarkelleF) June 23, 2017
2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS, Lonzo Ball, PG, UCLA
Los Angeles local Lonzo Ball was also the expected pick. He’s an exciting player for the Lakers and an ideal fit after they traded D’Angelo Russell to Brooklyn. Ball’s shot is as ugly as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but works far better. But his best attribute is his playmaking ability, which he proved beyond question as an elite passer in college. At 6’6” his size will be a real advantage.
Similar player to: Jason Kidd.
— Lonzo Ball (@ZO2_) June 23, 2017
3. BOSTON CELTICS, Jayson Tatum, SF, Duke.
The Celtics needed someone who could score and they got their expected choice. Tatum is an excellent athlete with great footwork who knows how to find his spots on the floor. He has a lot of upside, so it will be interesting to see how good he gets in a few years.
Similar player to: Paul Pierce.
— Jayson Tatum (@jaytatum0) June 23, 2017
4. PHOENIX SUNS, Josh Jackson, SF, Kansas
The expected pick here was De’Aaron Fox, but there was also a lot of pre-draft interest in Jackson and Phoenix have taken him on. Jackson is a two-way player with plenty of upside, and the perfect height at 6’8” for a wing player. Phoenix are starting to put some great young talent together, and Jackson’s a great addition.
Similar player to: Aaron Gordon.
— Marquese Chriss (@quese) June 23, 2017
5. SACRAMENTO KINGS, De’Aaron Fox, PG, Kentucky
The Kings expected pick was Josh Jackson, but they’ve got a promising player in Fox. He plays intensely on both ends of the court and has impressive pace. Fox has had problems though with his shooting. He never looks like he’s doing much wrong but his stats suggest otherwise. NBA players need to make shots at a high clip and Fox will have to work on this part of his game to become an elite point guard.
Similar player to: John Wall.
— De'Aaron Fox (@swipathefox) June 23, 2017
6. ORLANDO MAGIC, Jonathan Isaac, SF, Florida State
Orlando got the player they were after in Isaac, who at a towering 6’11” is a Durant-style small forward. He can play a couple of different positions which is a big asset in today’s league as teams regularly switch between big and small line-ups. Teams love a wing player who can defend well and knock down open 3’s, and Isaac fits right into that category.
Similar player to: Nicolas Batum.
— Jonathan Isaac (@jisaac_01) June 23, 2017
7. MINNESOTA T-WOLVES, Lauri Markkanen, PF, Arizona
The Timberwolves had Markkanen as their expected pick and after trades, sent him to the Chicago Bulls. Markkanen is a 7-foot power forward who shoots lights out from three. He averaged 42 per cent from three in college. But he’ll be an odd fit for the Bulls, as they have a very similar player in Nikola Mirotic. Markkanen will need to improve on his defence and interior scoring but this man’s potential is awesome.
Similar player to: Dirk Nowitzki.
— Lauri Markkanen (@MarkkanenLauri) June 23, 2017
8. NEW YORK KNICKS, Frank Ntilikina, PG, International
The Knicks expected pick was Donovan Mitchell, but they went for an international pick in Ntilikina earlier than expected. The Knicks had great success with Latvian Kristaps Porzingis and are no doubt hoping for the same with the 18-year-old Frenchman. Ntilikina is a terrific defensive point guard who can make plays. He doesn’t have much of a scoring game which is a worry but if he can stop players like Steph Curry and Kyrie Irving, his value will be huge.
Similar Player to: George Hill.
9. DALLAS MAVERICKS, Dennis Smith Jr, PG, NC State
Smith Jr was the Mavericks’ expected pick. Widely considered a risky choice, he’ll need to improve his consistency and become a better a passer and defender. But his athleticism makes him stand out of the crowd.
Similar player to: Russell Westbrook.
— Dennis Smith Jr. (@Dennis1SmithJr) June 23, 2017
10. SACRAMENTO KINGS, Zach Collins, C, Gonzaga
The Kings had been expected to go for Malik Monk, but they went for Zach Collins, and he’s now been traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland wanted him badly and chose to trade up 5 picks to get him. Collins is a talented centre who handles himself well at both ends of the court. His shooting is excellent for a centre and any big man shooting at 75 per cent from the free-throw line is a big win.
Similar player to: Marc Gasol.
— Jusuf Nurkić (@bosnianbeast27) June 23, 2017
Story by Jordan Buchanan. Feature image by Eric Drost, via Flickr Creative Commons.